A gathering of grief: crime survivors speak out

Whether it's in the peaceful harbor in Oceanside, or a suburban neighborhood, or downtown San Diego, crime is everywhere. And so are the survivors of crime. This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week and the Police Officers' Association Headquarters in Kearny Mesa is honoring those whose lives were forever changed by the acts of others. Instead of being known as victims, they'd rather be known as survivors – and that's part of the message that they hope to convey for all of us in the public to understand. They also want us to remember something very important: long after the news media reports the crimes that are committed, long after law enforcement solves the crimes, long after the perpetrators of the crimes are serving time, these survivors will continue to suffer. 

A gathering of grief, people impacted by crime. Too many of them still mourning the loss of loved ones to violence, came Monday to listen to words of encouragement. 

“I received a wake-up call from my mom that morning, expecting to hear 'Happy Thanksgiving,'” recounted Michael Sharbarth, after losing his big sister Cathy to violent crime.

They also came Monday to speak out.

“It's just been tough. I think the hardest part has been accepting the fact my sister is gone and I'll never be able to talk to her again.”

Cathy was killed Thanksgiving Day, her birthday, 2011. Michael courageously spoke of life after Cathy's death.

“It's our job as family members, as citizens, to know that this is an on-going problem in society.”

Joe Rome is about to observe an anguishing anniversary this weekend – that of the murder of his daughter Jennifer, 14 years ago.

“I have found my smile back, I have found compassion in my heart toward other people, and I try to share that.”

Federal and local law agencies – including the County Sheriff's office, including the Police Chief of San Diego and Bonnie Dumanis, the District Attorney – were in attendance to show survivors of crime, family members, and those who continue to mourn and feel the pain of loss through violent crime that support is there. Help is there, and the community is reaching out to the people that still suffer. This is the 25th year the event has taken place.

Categories: KUSI